Books EIGHT & NINE, and the Mid-Winter Blues.

BOOK EIGHT: Lila by Marilynne Robinson. I now have all of Marilynne Robinson's books sitting on my small end table that is serving a secondary function as a bookshelf in our little home. And in a matter of months, I've inhaled all of her novels. I remember reading Gilead a few years ago, and just not connecting with it. Rereading it this fall was delightful, and I dug into Home shortly thereafter. Finally, Lila appeared on the shelves of bookstores, and I used precious tutoring money (and a lot of it, I'll add) to buy Robinson's latest book (only in hardback and subjected to the hefty Euro) when we wandered into Book in Bar Aix-en-Provence a few weeks ago. I couldn't help myself.

The final book in this trilogy of sorts (though you can read the books independently and in any order) was a beautiful, poetic story of the life of Lila, the woman who wanders into Gilead and though young, marries an aging pastor in town, John Ames. In Gilead and Home, Lila is a bit of a mystery, and this book sheds light into who she is and how she ticks. The whole book is full of quotable sections, but here's one example of the simple, poetic nature of the novel that drew me in: "Lila was glad to be seeing the country again, the fields looking so green in the evening light. Knee-high by the Fourth of July. So it must be June. Every farmhouse in its cloud of trees. There is a way trees stir before a rain, as if they already felt the heaviness. It all just went on and on, the United States of America. It was so easy to forget that most of the world was cornfields."

BOOK NINE: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling. Annnnnnd the Harry Potter saga continues! I love this little escape from Muggle world and into the wizarding world of Harry, Hermione, and Ron. My husband was right: it's great. This was was a bulky 870 pages, but I made it through and am on to the next one!

It's the middle of winter here, and even though we aren't battling snow storms (and I'm not missing the Weather Channel's faulty forecasting: THE WINTER STORM OF THE CENTURY: BRACE YOURSELVES!!!...usually only to be disappointed, I might add), I am tiring of a season that is already a struggle for me. Our all-tile apartment resembles an icebox, and while the temperatures aren't all that low, it feels colder outside when everything we do requires walking (the grocery store, the bank, the gym, getting to work, getting to the train station to go to Madrid, etc.). And this week was unusually cold and especially windy. In the midst of the temperatures and wind, I seem to be in a mid-winter slump of sorts, which is why I haven't been posting as much. I'm also taking an online class that I'm really enjoying, but that has taken up some time as well. Ironically, it's a writing class, so I should be posting more, but at the moment I'm clearly not doing so. Yesterday, I went and chopped off all of my hair (the shortest it has ever been--yikes!)--mid-winter crisis, perhaps? Change was needed.

There's a lot around the corner: more learning and experimenting in my writing class, doing some traveling (though these weekends at home are oh-so-nice, too!), and the coming of spring, which always feels like a burden has been lifted off of my shoulders. Be looking for some new posts soon: more on cultural curiosities (and frustrations), A Day in the Life of An Auxiliar, and my best purchases in Spain.

Here's to warmer weather around the corner, and some inspiration to see the beauty in all things, even in the bleak midwinter!